Airport Baggage Handler

    Industry: Transport, Distribution and Logistics

    Summary: Airport baggage handlers load, unload and move baggage and cargo around an airport, both landside and airside (before and after the security boundary). They are sometimes called airport operative or ramp agent.

    Average salary: The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates vary, depending on:where you work the size of the company or organisation you work for the demand for the job.Starting pay is from around £6.19 an hour, rising to £9.00 with experience. Overtime and shift allowance payments can greatly increase salaries.

    The requirements

    • physical fitness
    • Disclosure Scotland
    • normal colour vision
    • teamwork
    • accuracy
    • honesty
    • reliable
    • remain calm under pressure
    • responsible
    • security conscious
    • General Education

    Read further information about this career



    Airport baggage handler; baggage handler; luggage handler; airline porter; airport operative; ramp agent

    The work

    You could be:

    • using lifting equipment, operating a conveyor belt or driving a truck to move baggage and cargo around the airport
    • checking baggage labels against passenger lists to make sure that the right luggage goes on to the right plane
    • correctly loading and storing cargo or luggage in the aircraft's hold so that it can fly safely and fuel efficiently
    • unloading baggage onto a conveyer belt or carousel for passengers to collect at baggage reclaim when they land
    • cleaning the aircraft toilets, refilling water supplies, de-icing and washing the windows
    • clearing runways after a storm or heavy snowfall and de-icing aircraft
    • directing traffic, attaching stairs and bridges to aircraft and operating a variety of ground machinery
    • with further experience, directing towed aircraft and assisting it to park at gate
    • using a radio to report any item that looks suspicious.


    • You would work both indoors and outdoors, in all weathers.
    • You might work in cold, cramped and noisy conditions.
    • You would sometimes have to lift, carry and load heavy weights, and objects which may be fragile or awkwardly shaped.
    • You are likely to work shifts, including nights, weekends and public holidays.
    • You would wear a uniform, and sometimes safety clothing such as a high visibility vest, hard hat or ear defenders.
    • Jobs can be seasonal, with extra temporary jobs during the holiday season and lay-offs in the winter.

    Getting in

    • You should have a good general education.
    • You may need to be at least 18 years of age, because of shift work regulations.
    • You are likely to need a driving licence and a fork-lift truck licence or Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence would be useful. You may have to sit an employer’s driving test.
    • You must have an Enhanced Disclosure or PVG Scheme record from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for more details.
    • You may need normal colour vision.
    • You should be fit and may have to have a medical examination.
    • You may need to live within a certain distance of the airport you work at.

    What does it take

    You need to be:

    • responsible
    • able to follow and act on instructions
    • physically strong and energetic
    • good at working as part of a team
    • able to work quickly and accurately, especially when under pressure
    • honest and reliable
    • aware of security and health and safety issues
    • able to work with machinery.


    • On the job training is provided by your employer.
    • This includes the safe operation of equipment such as fork-lift trucks, luggage carriers, conveyor belts and bar-code identification equipment.
    • You are also likely to be trained in airport security and health and safety procedures.
    • You may be able to work towards a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ).
    • If you are required to drive vehicles airside, you will need to pass a course to obtain a permit.

    More Information

    Scotland has six main airports: Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Glasgow Prestwick. There are also about a dozen small airports serving individual Scottish islands. Aberdeen and Glasgow airports are owned by Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited. Edinburgh Airport is owned by Global Infrastructure Partners. Dundee and Inverness are owned by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. Glasgow Prestwick Airport is owned by Infratil Airports Europe Limited. Jobs are sometimes advertised on the various company websites but are also advertised in Job Centres and in newspapers.


    Disclosure Scotland
    P.O. Box 250 Glasgow G51 1YU
    Tel: 0870 609 6006

    People 1st - Hospitality Guild
    2nd Floor Armstrong House 38 Market Square Uxbridge Middlesex UB8 1LH
    Tel: 01895 817000
    Notes: People 1st is the Sector Skills Council for the hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism industries. UKSP is now part of the Hospitality Guild, which provides information on careers in the hospitality and tourism industry. The website has an online 'personality' test designed to help you identify suitable careers within the above industries.

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